SEED grants

Seven businesses were recipients of 2018’s Supporting East End Entrepreneurship Development grants. They are from left to right: Charlene Spencer-Taylor, EZ Body & Auto Repair Service; Candice Streett, executive director, Virginia LISC; Ashley Williams, BareSOUL Yoga & Wellness; Chad Eisele, managing vice president/chief financial officer, domestic branded and partnership card, Capital One; Michelle Parrish, Soul N’ Vinegar; Toni R. Ardabell, market president, Bon Secours Richmond; Sequoia Ross, Favour Cookie Co.; Lawson Wijesooriya, The Neighborhood Scoop; and Alicia Hawkins, Carolina Bar B Que.

A program that helps support entrepreneurs in Richmond’s East End both financially and through mentoring is being reintroduced this year.

The Supporting East End Entrepreneur Development, or SEED, program will provide a total of $110,000 in grants to entrepreneurs that want to open or expand businesses along the 25th Street and Nine Mile corridor of Richmond.

Established by Bon Secours in 2011, the SEED program has awarded $514,500 in grants to 35 businesses to date, aiming to drive economic development in the Church Hill neighborhood.

The community development organization Virginia Local Initiatives Support Corp., or LISC, and Capital One Financial Corp. also partner with Bon Secours to support the program, which last announced grants in 2018.

This year, the local Retail Merchants group is joining the partnership.

A “retooled” iteration of SEED this year will put more emphasis on mentoring for East End small businesses.

“Together, we feel like we can build a program that is not just about the money but is really truly helping that corridor continue to be sustainable,” said Nancy Thomas, president and CEO of Retail Merchants.

“It is really about adding to the economic vitality of that corridor, creating jobs, keeping the dollars there and hopefully continuing to fill up empty store space,” Thomas said.

SEED grant recipients have included businesses in the area such as Dutch & Co., Soul N’ Vinegar, Metzger Bar & Butchery, The Neighborhood Scoop, Proper Pie, Sub Rosa Bakery and Union Market RVA.

An informational kickoff meeting for those interested in learning more about the program will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 28 at Bon Secours’ Sarah Garland Jones Center on Nine Mile Road.

The application process for this year’s SEED program is scheduled to begin in early spring. A business plan is required for consideration, so business coaches will be available to assist individuals with SEED applications. Finalists are expected to be announced mid-summer.

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